Until Phil Hughes pitches in an exhibition game, the Yankees won’t know if the right-hander will have enough time to avoid starting the season on the sidelines.

And before Hughes gets to work a game, he has to continue to climb the rehab ladder from a disk problem in his upper back that surfaced early in camp during a pitcher’s fielding drill.

Hughes will attempt to scale one of the rungs in that ladder today when he will throw batting practice at George M. Steinbrenner Field before the Yankees travel to nearby Dunedin to play the Blue Jays.

It will be Hughes’ first taste of batting practice, and if all goes well he could repeat a BP session or move up to a simulated game.

Ten days ago Hughes believed if he was in a game by today he would have a chance to start the season in the rotation. Even though that’s not going to happen, pitching coach Larry Rothschild isn’t counting Hughes out the first time through the rotation. The Yankees don’t need a fifth starter until April 6.